Carrying a Sally Rooney book has been the ultimate Instagram status symbol during the last year. Even more so now that her novel Normal People has been adapted for television and received Emmy nominations.
Sally Rooney’s books have been devoured by everyone who has read them, but now many of us find ourselves in the awkward position of being fully hooked on the young Irish author but having no new books to satisfy our Sally Rooney fix.
As a result of Rooney’s lasting influence on a generation of readers, there is no shortage of great literature available.
In the following list, we’ve selected novels that show simple but profound truths about people, human relationships, and love—much like Normal People. Some of them are Rooney-esque for their examples of everyday tragedy, while others have the same impact of teaching you something useful about yourself as you read.
Mr Salary by Sally Rooney
A short novella written by Rooney herself, I found this in a Melbourne bookshop without even realizing it existed. Only 33 pages, but it’s jam-packed with classic Rooney flair and skillfully raises the stakes in terms of sexual tension while also deftly addressing themes of love and death. It’s not much Rooney, but it’s better than nothing, I suppose.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
After hearing that Harry Styles like this book, I decided to give it a try. There is a slow start, but by page 50, you’ll be enthralled. Murakami is a master in conveying complex ideas in a way that is easy to understand. Like Normal People, this is the narrative of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love, which brings us to a remote place in time and space. Please believe Harry Style if you don’t believe what I say. “It was the first book, maybe ever, when all I wanted to do all day was read this,” he said in Rolling Stone this year.
The Course Of Love by Alain de Botton
The Course of Love, my all-time favorite novel, is unlike any other I’ve ever read. Before and after they meet, it’s the narrative of an average, everyday couple who lead unremarkable lives. How de Botton examines both his main characters and romanticism as a concept is extraordinary. De Botton, a philosopher, narrates as a god-like person and reveals his protagonist’s inner thoughts in the book’s commentary. This is a difficult book to explain, but it’s a joy to read.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This book is not for the faint of heart, both in terms of weight and subject matter. For those who loved Rooney’s characters in Normal People and Conversations With Friends, A Little Life is a heartbreaking and brilliantly written novel that will completely enthrall you. It will stick with you long after you’ve finished this book, which is set on the brutal, dirty, magical streets of New York City. Keep a box of tissues on hand at all times, just in case.
One Day by David Nicholls
If you were hooked on Normal People by Marianne and Connell’s love tale of impatience and longing, then David Nicholls One Day is the book for you. Nicholls gives the reader snapshots of his star-crossed lovers’ lives and relationships, like flipping through a stack of old Polaroid’s, over the course of 20 years. This anecdote serves as a reminder that things in life can change suddenly and without warning. This is a heartwarming story that will make you laugh and cry at the same time.
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
David and Sarah meet at a performing arts high school in 1980s America and fall in love like they’ve never done before. However, Mr. Kingsley, their charismatic teacher, notices their passion and rewards them accordingly. Despite the fact that their plot is simple, it takes the reader on a wild journey and leaves them wondering what is real and what is not.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
That An American Marriage won the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction proves that it’s even better than you thought. Celestial and Roy, a young couple, are the focus of this heartfelt novel. The newlyweds are looking forward to their future together now that they’ve tied the knot and secured stable employment. Celestial and Roy’s lives take a drastic shift when Roy is caught and sentenced to twelve years in prison for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Andre becomes a confidant as time passes; however, when Roy’s sentence is suddenly reversed, they must pick up the pieces and start anew.
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
There is more than meets the eye when comparing Diana Evans’ Ordinary People to Ordinary People. Stephanie and Damian and Melissa and Michael are the two couples featured in the book, which follows two epic love tales for the price of one. When President Barack Obama was inaugurated, the story takes place immediately after his inauguration, making it relevant to today’s society, even including John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” which Michael listens to a great deal.
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
It is the story of six teenagers who meet at an arts summer camp and form a close-knit group. It’s a good thing that they’re brought together initially, but as time goes on, the paths they take and the happiness they feel with their lives begin to diverge. As the summer wears on, it becomes clear that not everyone can keep up with the euphoria.
A Love Story For Bewildered Girls by Emma Morgan
Grace, Annie, and Violet—all three of whom are in love—are the focus of A Love Story for Bewildered Girls. However, they’re unsure whether or not they’re with the right individual. It’s easy to overlook the ups and downs of everyday life when we place so much importance on stability, finding the one, and sauntering into the sunset. Women’s relationships and first loves are the focus of A Love Story For Bewildered Girls, a romantic comedy.
Fates And Furies by Lauren Groff
One of President Obama’s favorite books of the year is Fates and Furies. There’s a narrative here about a married couple who are fundamentally misreading one another. When two people are involved in a relationship, their views on the connection can differ greatly. Similar to “Normal People,” “Fates and Furies” has a two-perspective narrative framework.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Nina Dean, a 32-year-old food blogger with a large online following, is the protagonist of Ghosts, a story about a woman whose life is spiraling out of control. Since starting to use dating apps, she’s been targeted by the most enticing and elusive males. With the onset of dementia, her fatnguonher, whom she adores, she begins to reflect about the passage of time and the sexism inherent in our biological clocks. People who enjoy reading about realistic love stories with real-life obstacles would enjoy this book.